Queen Rania and American Museum of Natural History exchange gifts to promote cross-cultural heritage

September 23, 2006

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - New York) After five days of meeting with policy makers and world leaders to discuss the imminent need for peace in the region, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah ended her working trip to New York, on Thursday, with a visit to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) to provide youth with a better understanding of the Middle East.

Queen Rania had stressed the need for more understanding between cultures on a number of occasions during her trip. In an interview with Good Morning America, she said, "In this day and age, with the accelerated globalization, we are having to come in contact with people from other cultures … on almost a daily basis. And yet we come into contact not armed with the knowledge that we need."

With that in mind, Queen Rania was at the museum aiming to arm some of the youth with a little more knowledge about Jordan, its history, geography and culture. As she toured the museum with Ellen Futter, President of AMNH, Her Majesty visited students participating in the Urban Advantage program and the Teacher Renewal for Urban Science Teaching (TRUST) program and toured the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. Queen Rania engaged some of the youth in a discussion about their programs and projects. She also pointed to Jordan's location on a map and later said she hopes that they were interested enough to want to learn even more about the country.

Her Majesty took a few Jordanian toys to leave for display at the museum- a symbolic gesture to remind visiting adults about the similarity between children across all cultures and at the same time engaging children and youth to think about their counterparts in other parts of the world.

The museum personnel presented Queen Rania with a few gifts, too, as a token of their appreciation. Her Majesty brought back an African sand stick and a light prism, among other things, which she hopes to display at the soon-to-open Children's Museum in Jordan. The museum is an initiative of Her Majesty's that will be the first interactive and educational institution of its kind in the Kingdom, and will encourage exploration and understanding of the Jordanian culture, sciences, technology, and industry, through innovative and educational multi-media resources and programs through its one hundred and fifty hands-on exhibits.

Urban Advantage is a new science education program that connects middle school teachers and students from across New York City with the exciting process of scientific discovery and learning. TRUST is a yearlong program open to K-12 educators working toward a science teaching degree in Earth science at Lehman or Brooklyn Colleges, as well as for select NYC school supervisors who want to enrich their schools' Earth Science programs. The Milstein Hall of Ocean Life is home to one of the museum's most celebrated icons, the 94-foot-long blue whale model. The hall was recently transformed into a fully immersive marine environment with video projections, interactive computer stations, and new ocean dioramas.

Children were also the focus of another of Her Majesty's visits during her stay in the US. On Wednesday, Queen Rania joined Children's Defense Fund (CDF) President Marian Wright Edelman and Association to Benefit Children (ABC) President Gretchen Buchenholz to tour ABC's new Echo Park children and family facility in Harlem and meet with children and their families.

While touring the facility, Queen Rania and Edelman took part in some of the innovative programs where Her Majesty asked teachers about the creative methods they use. Her Majesty was accompanied by Minister of Education Khaled Touqan and Director of Jordan River Foundation Maha Khatib to learn more about child and education focused community initiatives in the city.

Children at the park appeared delighted to showcase some of their artwork and projects to Her Majesty, and some of them discussed things like their favorite books and classes with her.

Queen Rania and Edelman, along with four other prominent women co-conveners, launched the Global Women's Action Network for Children this past June in the Dead Sea, Jordan. The Network's goal is to launch a massive public advocacy campaign and innovative new demonstration programs in countries around the world to turn the tide on women and infants’ mortality and promote girls' education.

Established in 1985, the Association to Benefit Children promotes a strong family-centered approach to combating poverty and promoting opportunity.